Studio engineer Matt Ross-Spang wasn't even born when most of Sun's most famous records were cut. Nonetheless, he's thought a lot about what makes them sound the way they do (transcript). Matt has been buying up old gear for a few years, returning the Sun Records studio to a vintage state (with a few exceptions), and he is still practicing "sonic archaeology," trying to figure out how Sam Phillips made records sound like Sun Records. There's more to it than the Sun tape echo. [more inside]
Here's a song I didn't know existed until summer 2007, when Lemon Jelly's Fred Deakin released an impeccably curated three-CD mix (full 4 hours on Mixcloud). Halfway through the first disc, the music slipped into an easy, loping groove, sunburned and hungover, and a regretful voice offered Otis Blackwell's lonesome lyric: "You know I can be found/ Sitting home all alone …" [Billy Swan's version of "Don't Be Cruel" is] a beautiful record, though, and utterly different from Elvis's 1956 recording. And it opens a fantastic collection of country funk songs, collected and remastered by Zach Cowie of Light in the Attic Records. More sounds below the break. [more inside]
Bacteria from personalities has been used to make human cheese as part of an exhibition on synthetic biology in Dublin. This included cheeses grown from bacteria from various belly buttons, noses, armpits, tears, mouths and toes. If that's a bit too strong for you, then other exhibits in the show include humans reproducing dolphins for food, and mice cloned from Elvis Presley's DNA.
Iconic Portraits Formed by Clusters of Tiny People. Starting his creative career as a street artist, Craig Alan developed his portraiture skills while earning a living to further fund his artistic pursuits. Since that point, the artist has been honing in on his craft and creating something more than your average portrait. He represents people as an amalgam of other people. The artist's portfolio boasts a series of inventive portraits of iconic figures whose visage appears to be composed of tiny pixels. Upon closer inspection, the spectator can see that the pixels are, in fact, people. [more inside]
Well, bust my britches, here it is January 8, Elvis Presley's birthday! Now, a mere 20 days after the young rock crooner had celebrated his 21st, back in 1956, he stepped onto the stage at CBS Studio in New York City and made his US national television debut, on the Dorsey Brothers show. Seems he was hot property from the get-go, cause he was back on that stage, straightaway, for five more appearances, on February 4th, 11th and 18th, then again on March 17th and 24th. And, yeah, heck, he was pretty good.
He Touched Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley -- Where other documentaries have focused on the early rock-and-roll of the Sun years, the Memphis Mafia, or the fat, drugged Elvis of the Las Vegas era, this documentary focusses on a side of Elvis many people may not be familiar with, and does a convincing job showing that it was early Southern gospel groups (both black and white) which were his true love and the main musical influence throughout his life. Filled with wonderful archival footage and revealing, and rather tender interviews from his band and his backup singers. (Part One) 1::2::3::4::5::6::7::8::9::10::11::12 (Part Two) 1::2::3::4::5::6::7::8::9::10::11 And here is a clip of Elvis singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic section from his American Trilogy, used to good effect in the Bazooka & Jetpack Scene from the movie Kick Ass. [This post dedicated to "The King" of Metafilter music, the mighty mighty flapjax at midnight]
Meet gold-toothed Vegas rapper Thug "Money Man" Presley, cousin to The King. Real name Kristopher Presley, Thug has been serving time in jail and just pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for running over someone with an SUV in 2004. [more inside]
"The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear," Frank Sinatra wrote of rock 'n' roll during the time of Elvis Presley. But Frank wasn't stupid... he knew his relevance was fading and if you can't beat 'em, you have to join 'em. So in 1960, Elvis Presley was welcomed home from his two year military tour by the Frank Sinatra Timex Show "Welcome Home Elvis" special. Later Sinatra said, "I'm just a singer. Elvis was the embodiment of the whole American culture."
Twenty-two browned, hollowed-out loaves of Italian white bread. Twenty-two pounds of bacon. Twenty-two jars of peanut butter. Twenty-two jars of jelly. Forty-eight tablespoons of butter. A case of Perrier. A case of champagne. And the King.
Elvis: King of the Rock 'n' Roll Jews? Unlike George Allen, Elvis proudly embraced his Jewish heritage. Through his mother's side of the family, Elvis could trace his lineage back to his Jewish great-grandmother, Martha Tackett, which makes Elvis Jewish by matrilineal descent. A former shabbos goy who did chores on the Sabbath for a rabbi in Memphis, Elvis had his biggest-selling success with a #1 hit by a Jewish songwriting team. Known to wear a Hebrew Chai pendant and to donate to Jewish charities in Memphis, Elvis also put the Star of David on his Mom's gravestone.
The Afghan Elvis (with YouTube clip), the Soviet Elvis (played by Tom Hanks), the French Elvis (now seeking Belgian citizenship), the Mexican Elvis, the Swedish Elvis, the Filipino Elvis, the Chinese Elvis, the Sikh Elvis, the Japanese Elvis who became a Prime Minister, and other foreign Elvii.
Is The King Finally Dead, After 25 Years? Elvis Presley died on 16 August 1977 and, silly season or not, The Observer, kicking off with Nik Cohn's above-linked essay, has assembled a cracking collection of articles, interviews and humorous pieces about the controversial crooner, mainly directed (I'd say) at non-fans. To my mind, the most enjoyable are Nigel Slater's brave attempt to make the famous Presley sandwich; the weird interview with Larry Geller, his hairdresser and spiritual advisor; the account of Elvis's only (secret) visit to Britain; Michael Odell's funny set of instructions on how not to behave at an Elvis party; an interview with George Nichopoulos, the doctor who wrote out more than 10,000 prescriptions for him; a round-up of ludicrous ex-girlfriends' memories and, as an after-thought, a collector's report on locating that legendary first "Uh-huh" of his. It's all good stuff but one has to ask whether, in this day and age, it isn't, er, overkill. Is Elvis Presley still that relevant or is he slowly becoming a figure of fun? Whether or not he's actually dead, of course, is entirely another matter...
Buckley (Heart) Elvis? No, it's not a liberal v. conservative thing. Writing an Elvis book just does not fit the William F. Buckley image. Ontime spy novelist. Erudite PBS show host. Shows up in places like House Beautiful, waxing witty about homes and home decor, with references to the Metropolitan Opera and such. I too love the Big E, but this is baffling and hilarious. He apparently discusses his E fixation in the upcoming (and usually outstanding) Southern Music Issue of the Oxford American. Thoughts? Is the new American literary dream to retire and write an Elvis book, as opposed to the Great American Novel?